By Barbara W. Tuchman
"Wise, witty, and lovely . . . a superb ebook, in an exceptional historic tradition." —CommentaryThe 14th century provides us again contradictory photographs: a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry, and a gloomy time of ferocity and non secular soreness, an international plunged right into a chaos of battle, worry and the Plague. Barbara Tuchman anatomizes the century, revealing either the nice rhythms of heritage and the grain and texture of family lifestyles because it was once lived.
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Extra resources for A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century
After the experiences of the terrible 20th century, we have greater fellow-feeling for a distraught age whose rules were breaking down under the pressure of adverse and violent events. ” The interval of 600 years permits what is significant in human character to stand out. People of the Middle Ages existed under mental, moral, and physical circumstances so different from our own as to constitute almost a foreign civilization. As a result, qualities of conduct that we recognize as familiar amid these alien surroundings are revealed as permanent in human nature.
The more riches the Church amassed, the more visible and disturbing became the flaw; nor could it ever be resolved, but continued to renew doubt and dissent in every century. In the earliest Latin documents, Coucy was called Codiciacum or Codiacum, supposedly derived from Codex, codicis, meaning a tree trunk stripped of its branches such as those the Gauls used to build their palisades. For four centuries through the Dark Ages the place remained in shadow. In 910–20 Hervé, Archbishop of Reims, built the first primitive castle and chapel on the hill, surrounded by a wall as defense against Norsemen invading the valley of the Oise.
Travelers coming from any direction could see this colossus of baronial power from miles away and, on approaching it, feel the awe of the traveler in infidel lands at first sight of the pyramids. Seized by grandeur, the builders had carried out the scale of the donjon in interior features of more than mortal size: risers of steps were fifteen to sixteen inches, window seats three and a half feet from the ground, as if for use by a race of titans. Stone lintels measuring two cubic yards were no less heroic.
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara W. Tuchman